how can I get included in after-work drinks?

A reader writes:

I’m wondering what’s the best way to go about getting included in after-work drinks. Being softly spoken, I’m often not seen as being social (yet I am social) and thus don’t get invited. I find it a real strain to keep speaking up and some people have an issue with people who are “quiet.” It’s hurtful coming in to find that most of the office has been out for drinks and I haven’t been included. I’m not sure how to tackle this.

Ask to come next time!

I know it can feel awkward to invite yourself to something, and you might be thinking that if they wanted you there, they would have asked you. But it’s not uncommon for people to  make mistaken assumptions about which coworkers would and wouldn’t be interested in something like happy hour, and you might need to just correct that impression.

The next time you hear that drinks happened, say this: “Would you let me know the next time people are going to happy hour? I’d love to come.”

Seriously, that is a totally normal and okay thing to say to coworkers.

If you still feel awkward about it, know that work drinks are a little different from purely social drinks. In a purely social situation, you generally wouldn’t invite yourself on someone else’s social outing (unless you were close enough to know it would be fine). But with work drinks — assuming it’s a group of people going and not two people deliberately seeking out one-on-one time — this is truly a thing that people do.

Also, you can initiate drinks yourself! You could say, “Would y’all be up for a drink across the street one night this week?” or “The bar down the street has $2 rail drinks and tater tots on Tuesdays — want to get a group to go next week?” But if you’re not quite up for organizing, stick with just asking to be alerted next time.

{ 121 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. HMM

    Yes, I often get invited out to drinks because I’m seen as a social person, but I’m actually quite an introvert! After doing my job all day, which requires lots of interaction with people, I’m tapped out by 5 and dread the thought of going to happy hour. I say this not to humblebrag about getting invites (I swear!), but rather as an illustration of the mistaken assumptions people make about others. You’re not inviting yourself, but rather just making you preferences known.

    Also, Alison’s point about organizing things yourself is key, too. In my friend group, I almost never organize things (because I do it for work and it’s not fun having to do it in my personal life too) and that has meant that sometimes I don’t get invited to things because I’m not sharing the “cost” of maintaining the friendship. When it happens and I’m sad about it, I use it as a reminder that I’m not putting the effort in to maintain the friendship and that I need to do my part.

    Reply
  2. Vicky

    Alison’s right. You wouldn’t believe how often I’ve approached something like this only to find that the people just thought I wasn’t interested and were more than happy to have me along.

    usually people aren’t being rude. honestly if you want anything in this life all you have to do is stand up and ask

    Reply
    1. Justin

      Yeah there was this group of women at my job who would take a conference room at lunch most days and chat. I figured, being a guy, I wasn’t really invited, but they were all my age and the only people near my age (and job level) on the floor. But I didn’t want to butt in.

      Come to the holiday party, I had a drink or two, and finally said, “I was wondering if it would be okay if I ate with you folks one of these days?” They all said, of course, we just assumed you wouldn’t want to come.

      Reply
      1. Jean Lamb

        Our company had a knitting/needlework group that met Tuesdays at noon in one of the unused conference rooms. I was delighted to see one of the IT guys there. Seriously, just ask.

        Reply
    2. JamieS

      Here is where we disagree. I fully back Alison’s advice to ask but not extending an invitation to everyone on your team at least once is incredibly rude IMO.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        There’s no indication *anybody* gets “extended an invitation,” though. In my experience, what usually happens is that somebody names a place and people either turn up or they don’t; former attendees may hear a “You coming?” but it’s randomly dependent on who you run into.

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        1. Blank

          Agreed – my current office is very casual about the weekly after-work pub run. There’s a weekly late-afternoon meeting, then it’s pub time. No one is formally invited, it’s just what ~happens. It took me a while to understand that I was welcome to come along!

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        2. JamieS

          Logic would dictate that if absolutely nobody was extended any sort of invitation office happy hour would not exist. Naming a place to a group of people is extending an invitation to that group of people.

          Regardless the subject at hand is people not inviting someone because they assumed she wasn’t interested. That implies both invitations being extended and choosing not to extend an invitation to a specific person.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            I think it depends what you mean by extending an invitation. Often when work drinks get arranged in my office it’s a last-minute thing after someone’s had a long day and is just seeing who else still happens to be at work that might want to blow off some steam with them. Or alternatively, one person invites their closest work friend, and that person chats with another person who they then invite, and then it kind of builds up organically.

            The point being that it’s unlikely that there’s some kind of formalized group email or something being sent around in advance saying this time, this place and the OP is being left off of the list.

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            1. JamieS

              I mean you make people aware of it without implying they aren’t invited. I’m referring to a semi regular occurrence not a one time only thing. If you work on a team of 10 and 8 people are invited through some avenue of information but the other 2 are not it’s rude not to make sure to invite the other two if happy hour happens again.

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              1. LBK

                I think fposte’s point is that a lot of these things aren’t done via individual invitation. No one is putting together a list of who they want to tell about happy hour and specifically leaving the OP off. Maybe it is still rudeness via oversight, but it’s not intentionally exclusionary, which I think makes a difference in how you handle it.

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  Right, exactly. I utterly agree with the suggestion that it would be nice for the veterans to reach out to newbies with information about group social events. I just think there’s a big difference between a group’s doing the same thing it’s always done and a conscious choice to leave somebody out, and I would definitely approach the second differently than the first.

                2. JamieS

                  The first time maybe If it’s a semi regular occurrence and none of the “organizers” ever bother to invite team member Jane they’re being rude.

                  At this point, I think either I’m not being clear or some of you are either way overcomplicating this or being intentionally difficult. Most people know what is meant by being invited to drinks by coworkers.

                3. JamieS

                  You don’t agree it’s rude not to invite a team member to a team outing? We will have to agree to disagree on that.

                4. LBK

                  I agree that it’s rude to intentionally choose to leave someone out. I disagree that that’s a common scenario or relevant to what we’re talking about here.

          2. fposte

            I think you’re way overreading how these things happen in a lot of offices; they most certainly don’t have to involve a conscious choice not to extend an invitation to some people.

            Reply
            1. JamieS

              No I’m not overreading. You’re just overcomplicating my statement. I’ll use an example. At your office you wind up going out to happy hour with 8 of your 10 team members on a semi regular basis Everyone assumes the other 2 aren’t interested so nobody ever invites them through some avenue or another. That is rude.

              Reply
              1. LBK

                The point that you seem to be missing is that that’s a strawman scenario, because the reason a couple random people might get left out is rarely an intentional decision to exclude them due to thinking they’re not interested. You’re assigning unrealistic motivations to the situation. The thought process of “Do I think Jamie would want to attend happy hour? Probably not, so I won’t invite her” doesn’t usually actually happen.

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                1. Colette

                  Yeah, it’s a far more individual decision than that. The “organizer” invites one or two people they happen to be talk to, and those two mention it others, but no one does a count of who is invited or goes around and invites everyone.

                  I used to go for lunch regularly with a couple of coworkers. Originally, we invited others who never came, so a year in we just went and assumed that the adults we worked with would mention if they wanted to come. (And they did, on occasion, and they were welcome.)

                2. kittymommy

                  Exactly. Like Colette explained, it’s much more likely a couple of people talked about it. One of them saw Sally by the copper and did sunbathing, Bob overheard and was interested. The other person was talking to Mary who then was getting coffee with Jack… It’s not ineffectual, there’s not enough thought about it to be intentional. Much more likely it’s a random hodge-podge of conversations all mushed together.

                3. LBK

                  Totally agreed – for a while a friend of mine in another department and I got lunch together every day and didn’t specifically invite anyone else, but anyone who happened to be around and heading to lunch at the same time or anyone who passed us by our table in the cafeteria was definitely welcome to join.

          3. Mallory Janis Ian

            I mean, what would happen at my old office is a bunch of guys would be around me talking amongst themselves about going out for drinks. They were all at least ten to fifteen years younger than me and, well, guys, so it didn’t occur to me that their conversation amongst themselves might loosely include me. Then later they commented that I never came out with them, and then I started occasionally going.

            Sometimes people can be slow to recognize that they’re already informally included, especially if there are age, gender, or other differences.

            Reply
            1. Amy G. Golly

              I also wonder if this isn’t similar to the problem of “Ask vs. Guess” culture. (Google that phrase if you’re not familiar!) One mindset assumes that asking someone to join an activity when that person hasn’t expressed a clear interest is imposing on them – it’s awkward to turn down a direct invitation, and so they assume people will give signals when an invitation is welcome. The other mindset assumes that expressing interest in an activity you haven’t been invited to join is inviting yourself (or at least fishing for an invitation) and finds that the bigger imposition.

              In either case, the people involved are trying to be polite and respectful; they just have opposite views of what polite and respectful look like. It’s only really rude if you know which camp the other party/parties belong/s to, and intentionally withhold the proper invitation.

              Still, understanding that different people have different views of the matter and consciously bridging the gap in understanding is certainly kind!

              Reply
        3. chi type

          Yeah I agree with JamieS. “You coming?” IS an invitation. I don’t think anyone was imagining something with calligraphy.
          More senior people should make a conscious effort to ask the new guy at least once.

          Reply
      2. Koko

        I think that depends a little bit on team size and composition. If you’re talking about a small team and a majority of them do happy hour, then you’d be pretty pointedly rude not to invite a new person.

        But if you’re a team of 25 and only 7 ever do happy hour, and a new person is hired who doesn’t work closely with any of the 7, it’s an easy oversight to make without any malice involved. My team is about that size and we sometimes hire new people who I don’t even meet for a couple of weeks because we work on different projects and sit in different areas of the building.

        Reply
        1. JamieS

          If the other 18 team members have previously been invited and turned it down then no it’s not rude not to continue to invite them every time however it is still rude not to invite the new person who’s never been invited.

          By team I mean people on your team that you know exist and are on your team.

          Reply
        2. SarahTheEntwife

          Agree; my organization has a bunch of relatively small teams, and so socializing usually happens in random mixed-team groups where there isn’t really a default “rest of the team” to reach out to and it would be a bit odd to ask if The Entire Organization feels like joining you for lunch.

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        3. Raven_144

          Completely agree. We’re a department of roughly 100 people – at least 100 that work in this particular office. Happy hour invites do go out via email, but often go out to only people that you see physically at their desk that day. Many of us travel throughout the week for work so it’d be pretty normal to see someone Monday but not the rest of the week. We’ve now all gotten in the habit of adding “Please forward to anyone I missed” because we know we’re missing people. The smaller teams within the department usually know each other’s whereabouts and will forward as appropriate. Normally 10-20 people show up, and it’s rarely the same group of people.

          This doesn’t solve OP’s question, but is another example of how happy hour invites can work.

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      3. tigerlily

        I just don’t think this is how happy hours work though. I don’t think I’ve ever gone out to drinks with people after work where there was any sort of formal invitation. It’s always more like I’m getting off and I say hey I need a drink so I’m heading this one place and people in my general vicinity say to themselves, that sounds great I’mma tag along.

        Reply
        1. JamieS

          I’m not referring to sending out a card in the mail. I mean you make them aware of it in a way that implies they’re invited.

          Maybe I need to be more clear. If you invite team members to happy hour, you consider Jane a team member, and you aren’t inviting Jane to happy hour because you assume she’s not interested you are being rude.

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          1. LBK

            But what people are trying to say is that when you “invite team members to happy hour,” a lot of times the “invite” is literally nothing more than saying “Hey, Joe’s Bar after work today if anyone wants to join” to whomever happens to be in earshot.

            This actually just happened to me this week, I only found out about a group happy hour because I overheard other people talking about it – and it wasn’t that they didn’t want me to join, rather because it was never formally set up, it just kind of spread organically from a few people saying “we should grab a drink after work tomorrow” and looping in others as it came up. At no point did someone sit down and say “Okay, let me make a list of everyone who’s on this team and make sure they are all aware of happy hour tomorrow”.

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            1. Amy

              Right but if that casual invitation or mention never makes it to the same group of people that’s the issue. And that seems so be the issue in the OP’s case since she is only hearing about it afterwards. We have two people on our team that sit separately from everyone else due to space issues. We try to make sure that someone walks down to let them know things like this are going on. It’s not a big deal if we forget every now and again but if we never did it would be an issue.

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          2. Trout 'Waver

            You are being perfectly clear. Everyone responding to you understands what you’re saying. Maybe you should read what everyone else is posting with a more open mind.

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            1. JB (not in Houston)

              Yep.
              1. decide to go for drinks after work
              2. make a mental list of everyone in your team and make sure they know about it, or
              2b. make a mental list of everyone in your team and tell some about it but not others
              is not how most happy hours happen.

              I frequently do not get invited to group lunches around my office. It is not because people don’t want to invite me. It’s because when someone on a different part of the floor decides to go get lunch, he starts to head out and along the way, he’ll invite whatever random people he passes on the way. The path to the closest exit for him is not near and does not pass my office. People with offices next to mine also don’t get those invites simply because he and the rest of the group don’t pass us on their way out–but if I happened to be in the hallway they were walking down, they’d invite me. A lot of happy hours get put together in a very similar manner.

              Reply
              1. Raven_144

                Our lunch invites happen much in the same way. We’ve tried to be better about walking around to invite people, but often forget. I’ve tried to make a point to tell new hires about the general standing lunch policy. “We normally grab lunch at 11:30. There’s not a formal invite process. When you see a group of us standing up and walking down that means it’s lunchtime. We will make an effort to invite you in person several times, but if after about 3 times you say no we’ll stop inviting you.” Our department has expanded pretty rapidly from about 30 people to 100 people over the past few years. That intimate camaraderie is a bit lost, but we do make an effort. It’s not as good as it used to be, though, just given the sheer volume of people we have.

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            2. JamieS

              If everyone understood their replies would be different even if they reply with 100 page essays about why they disagree with me. I’m talking about assuming someone doesn’t want to go so not saying anything to them (which is what occurred in the comment I originally replied to and is conscious exclusion) and everyone else is talking about how happy hours aren’t formally planned events which is common knowledge.

              I’ll illustrate with a hypothetical. If a coworker says something about not being asked to happy hour and you reply with the basic gist of “we assumed you weren’t interested” (again what I’m talking about) that is not the same thing as “we just invite anyone within earshot and didn’t realize you didn’t know” (again what nearly everyone else is talking about). The former means you considered it and chose not to invite the co-worker or at the very least heavily implies it. The latter just means it was pure happenstance they were never invited.

              Rereading my original comment I see why people are talking about something totally different from what I’m talking about. I should have said not inviting someone on your team (whatever team means to you and your workplace) at least once because you assume they aren’t interested is rude.

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              1. Triplestep

                For what it’s worth, I see the difference and I totally agree with you. I think what is throwing people off is the word “rude” as if it means “intentionally hostile” in this context. Excluding people from informal get-togethers may not be done out of hostility, but there is definitely *intention* in making an assumption about someone’s desire to participate and acting on that. As the person who has been on the receiving end of “we thought you wouldn’t want to come” assumptions, I can tell you that being left out feels crappy – and intentional – no matter how the participants were rounded up.

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                1. Shop Girl

                  So true. How it sounds to someone with low social self esteem is “We didn’t think you wanted to come and really your personality is so blah that we don’t care if you come or not.” That’s not what might be actually happening but it feels like it to the socially insecure person. To the socially anxious having someone say “ you know your always welcome” can make a big difference.

          3. Camille

            I just want to say that I totally agree with you! I hate “right place right time” invites because they can be so exclusionary. I get what other people are saying – it’s not on purpose, etc – but it still sucks to be the wrong place wrong time team member who has missed out on 5 happy hours in a row. I think people who say “oh they’re not formal invitations” have maybe never been on the receiving end of consistently being not invited to things. I know it’s not on purpose when I’m not asked! But when it happens consistently (or has happened in the past, even in another context) it really does sting. I wish people would get that!

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            1. Often Left Out

              These responses are not bad, but they rub me the wrong way. Like most advice about exclusionary and cliquish environments, they put the onus of changing group behavior on the person left out. It shouldn’t be up to one person to constantly have to invite herself to office outings. It shouldn’t be up to one person to make sure he or she is always in the right place at the right time to overhear an invitation that’s supposed to be open to everyone. I agree with some of the other posters who’ve said that people who think it’s so easy just to include yourself, probably haven’t been on the receiving end of regular office exclusion. Or haven’t had the privilege of organizing your own event and having no one show up, only not to be invited to the very next event where “everyone is welcome.” That stuff sucks and, left unchecked, can undermine team dynamics and productivity.

              To everyone who insists that group happy hours and such aren’t meant to be exclusionary… It’s really not that hard to send an email to the group address saying “Some of us are heading to Bob’s Burgers after work today, join us if you’re free.” And by making it common practice to send an email to everyone, no one has to keep track of who is and isn’t interested and who has or hasn’t been personally invited week to week.

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              1. Lissa

                Sure, but I think that only works when there’s one “organizer”, who’s going to take on the onus of sending an email, or personally inviting everyone. A lot of the time these things don’t really happen with one particular organizer, and I think that expecting every casual “oh hey I’m thinking of heading to the bar” after work to mean someone then has to send an email to everyone is just unrealistic. It might be better overall but I don’t think it’s a reasonable expectation

                And yes I have been excluded and left out plenty over my lifetime. I wish people wouldn’t assume that because someone has a different opinion about a topic they haven’t experienced it personally.

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              2. Jill

                “Like most advice about exclusionary and cliquish environments, they put the onus of changing group behavior on the person left out.”

                Because the advice columnist can only give advice to the person who wrote in, she can’t give advice to the other people.

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          4. Jill

            Yes, you have been very clear, but as has been said many times already, this is probably not an organized activity. It’s very likely that everyone assumes the OP has been invited by someone else and has chosen not to go. As someone posted farther down: “For years we’d been doing them every Friday with everyone always welcome, and I guess in our minds “everybody knew” about it because we were doing it so visibly.”

            Yes, it’s rude not to invite Jane. At the same time, the point you seem to be missing is that they most likely aren’t intentionally excluding her, it’s essentially a miscommunication.

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            1. JamieS

              If I’ve been clear then why is nearly everyone else talking about something completely different from what I’m talking about? I’m not missing any point. I understand what everyone else is saying and the point you all are attempting to make. The problem is I’m talking about the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge and everyone else is talking about digging the Holland Tunnel and making points about the Tunnel which may be good points but aren’t relevant to the building of the Bridge.

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              1. Someone else

                I think you’ve honed in on one specific circumstance in which one might end up excluded due to assumption of disinterest, and which many agreed, if it were what occurred, is rude. But what I also see happening is others saying that the scenario you described, in their experience, happens significantly less frequently than the different, not malicious, other scenario they described. It’s not that your scenario is unclear or impossible. It is both clear and possible, but also less likely what is happening in OP’s office. So in terms of helping OP, I think it’s more helpful to assume until proven otherwise that she is in the more common sitch other people keep bringing up.

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                1. Jill

                  +1000.

                  JamieS, you are focused on what is probably the least likely scenario – that everyone made a conscious decision to exclude the OP, whether it was because they specifically don’t want her to come, or that they are all assuming she isn’t interested.

                  It’s like you’re talking about building the Golden Gate Bridge and focusing on how to make to withstand an alien attack while we are focusing on how to make it structurally sound.

                2. Triplestep

                  Jill, I can tell you’re not a person who is often left out due to an assumption you wouldn’t be interested. Jamie’s premise is not “the least likely scenario.” Ask anyone for whom this assumption is made over and over again.

                3. Jill

                  Triplestep, yes I have been in that position and yes, it hurts. But I also understand that it’s not malicious, it’s ignorance or stupidity or whatever you want to call it. JamieS keeps saying there is malice involved, and in almost all instances there isn’t.

                4. Lissa

                  Why do people do this? “I can tell you haven’t been left out”, really? This idea that if somebody doesn’t agree with your view they must not have personally experienced whatever it is is just wildly inaccurate. People have intensely different reactions to all kinds of things, and I have seen people who are the victims of certain things go on to be unsympathetic or not overly compassionate about that instance in the future *a lot*. It’s easy to assume that anyone who disagrees with your perception is a Popular Elite who’s never experienced suffering but that is very often not the case.

                5. JamieS

                  Jill choosing not to invite someone doesn’t mean you consciously thought “I’m not going to invite Jane because Jane doesn’t want to go”. That’s not how most of the decisions we make occur.

                  You’re acting like I’m saying that somebody is sitting at their desk writing out a list of people to invite and people to not invite out to drinks. That’s not what I’m saying and yes I know that’s slightly hyperbolic. I’m talking about making informal plans with co-workers around 3 and then see group member Jane around 3:30 and not mentioning anything to Jane about the plans to go out because you just assume she doesn’t want to go. Again that doesn’t mean you consciously thought “I’m not going to invite Jane” it means you engage in a behavior where you were given the opportunity to invite someone and didn’t for whatever reason.

                  This kind of thing happens all the time. Literally every single day. Probably one of the most frequent things that happen in offices. The problem is often the people who do it don’t have enough self-awareness to realizes that’s what they’re doing. However not realizing you’re engaging in rude behavior doesn’t make the behavior any less rude or inconsiderate. Most inconsiderate things people do are things they don’t realize they’re doing because they don’t think about it.

                  My entire point is habitually not including someone and/or habitually only including some people and not others is rude/inconsiderate behavior. It seems like that’s getting lost because I didn’t phrase a comment in the exact right way.

                6. JamieS

                  Lissa fully agree there. Being sympathetic or not being sympathetic isn’t indicative of having experienced something. I’m sympathetic to tons of things I’ve never experienced and not all that sympathetic to things where I’ve gotten the short end of the stick. I think that’s pretty common behavior for most people.

                7. Jill

                  “My entire point is habitually not including someone and/or habitually only including some people and not others is rude/inconsiderate behavior. It seems like that’s getting lost because I didn’t phrase a comment in the exact right way.”

                  And the other side is saying that the “group” probably doesn’t even realize they aren’t including her, or think that she’s been asked by someone else and declined, or there’s some other perfectly reasonable and non-malicious reason why she wasn’t asked.

                  ” I’m talking about making informal plans with co-workers around 3 and then see group member Jane around 3:30 and not mentioning anything to Jane about the plans to go out because you just assume she doesn’t want to go.”

                  Or you assume someone else already asked her. Or that she’s otherwise already aware of it. Or you are distracted with something else and not thinking about happy hour. Or any one of hundreds of other reasons that have nothing to do with assuming she just doesn’t want to go.

                  “The problem is often the people who do it don’t have enough self-awareness to realizes that’s what they’re doing.”

                  Yes, this. They are clueless, not rude.

                8. JamieS

                  Jill firstst and foremost being clueless isn’t mutually exclusive
                  with being rude. They often go hand in hand. If you have the opportunity to ask someone and don’t you know you didn’t do so. Even if you think someone already knows why wouldn’t you say something regardless? That’s completely illogical behavior because if everyone just assumed everyone else knows so nobody ever says anything to anyone then nobody would be invited to anything ever. There’s also no reason to think someone else had said something. Someone has to say something at some point and there’s often a reason people say something to some and not to others.

                  Regardless we’re not talking about legitimately believing Jane was invited by Paul so you don’t say anything. We’re talking about never thinking to invite Jane because you assume she doesn’t want to go. I’m talking about a continuous behavior not a one time misunderstanding. Also, for the record, if I legitimately thought Jane was invited and then found out nobody said anything to her I’d make a mental note to be sure to ask her next time so that doesn’t excuse repeatedly leave someone out in most cases.

          5. Koala dreams

            For what it’s worth, I understand exactly what you mean JamieS. I don’t know why some people make up some straw-man scenarios that have nothing to do with your comments. Or tell you that you can’t possible have been reading the comments since you disagree!

            One thing I appreciate a lot with my office is the fact that I always get invited when there is some special activity, even though I work part-time and often can’t participate in for example lunch events, because I already have different plans. Someone always takes a minute to mention “we are going to /place/ for lunch tomorrow, you are welcome to join us”. It makes me feel appreciated at work.

            It’s so easy for people with different schedules or new people to get left out in these sort of scenarios, and it hurt just as much no matter the reason.

            Reply
            1. JamieS

              Thank you! I was starting to think I was speaking French based on some of the replies which is especially problematic considering I don’t speak French.

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      4. Robbie

        I started working in a small town, in a role where you learn to know everybody very quickly. I find in these communities, you don’t always get the invite/info/real dirt because everyone assumes someone already filled you in. Sometimes it isn’t outright rudeness, more like miscommunication. This can also be true in office spaces.

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    3. Former Retail Manager

      Yes, this! I am sort of an office social butterfly and I make an attempt to build some sort of rapport with most everyone who works in my division, although there really isn’t a business reason to do it due to the nature of my/our positions being pretty independent. I am often considered the “organizer” or “go-to” person for work related events or happy hours. I personally use e-mail to send out a generic “come one, come call” type e-mail to remind everyone of happy hour. I use a three strikes rule though…I will include you three times and if you don’t attend or ask to be removed from the distribution list, I will simply take you off. However, before doing so, I have personally extended an invitation to some of the quieter folks just so they know that they’re really welcome and not being invited out of obligation. They all seemed to appreciate it, although my success in getting them there was mixed.

      If you have a decent rapport with any of the happy hour attendees, definitely say you want to be included, but maybe mention the idea of an e-mail to the group in case anyone else wants to come, but feels similarly to you. I realize this won’t work in every scenario, but I feel it’s a good idea for most offices.

      Reply
      1. Emmie

        That’s a really thoughtful way to include people. I would adjust it only slightly for me and check in with those removed to see if they want to come … maybe in six months or so. But, you seem very thoughtful

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      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        This is how I do it, too! Except on the third no-show invite, I ask if the person still wants to receive invites. Usually the answer is yes, but it helps me feel less spammy.

        I do think that a lot of these events happen at the spur of the moment and informally, so for offices that don’t have an “organizer of fun,” it helps for the person who feels excluded to ask to come or be invited. Most normal people will include you going forward and/or apologize for the prior miscommunications.

        Reply
  3. HappyToBeIncluded

    It’s those “assumptions” that can really create misunderstandings and unintentional hurt or feelings of being left out.

    Please, do ask to be included.

    And those who organize: ask. Ask those you are assuming might not want to join in. Be inclusive. They’ll tell you if they don’t but they might be happy that you took the time to ask. And if they cannot due to other plans or obligations, if they know you would be happy to include them and have them around next time, they will find a way (a babysitter, an evening that’s suddenly free) to join in eventually or from time to time because they know they will be welcomed. It’s worth the effort.

    Signed, someone who has been on both sides of this equation and is still growing from those lessons learned.

    Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      Yes! And even if they can’t find a way, you may find that they’re warmly appreciative of your asking them.

      I never stayed for gaming night at my last job. I would have enjoyed the games, but I wanted and needed to be home with my family more, and my commute was bad. The things I could have done to solve it weren’t worth it, even though I was missing out.

      But I’m really glad they invited me and made it clear I was welcome if I wanted to show up; I felt included, even though I didn’t attend. I hope I made my appreciation of that clear to them, even if I never attended one.

      Reply
      1. anonymous becky

        exactly this. my teammates from college threw parties and didn’t invite me, i’d hear them talk about it and all their antics and felt super left-out. my feelings were hurt. one teammate who was brave and sensitive at the same time invited me personally to the next get together, since she knew i was never invited, and she said that she understood the reasons why an invitation wasn’t extended my way (I didn’t drink and they did) but she wanted me to be included, even if I declined.
        i was so touched by her thoughtfulness and i accepted the invitation, went to the next get together and we all had a great time, and i felt more than ever the bonds of being on a Team and this inclusion helped us all understand each other just a little bit more. we all ended up respecting each other more. (ps- they drank their drinks and i drank my soda and we were all fine)
        i will never forget how this teammate reached out to me, and will always be grateful to her.
        If you’re reading this, Thank you Michelle!!

        Reply
    2. Koko

      To add to that, there’s a scenario where nobody is organizing the event because it’s become routine. Especially if people always go to the same place on the same day of the week, it’s likely that individual people are checking with their closest workmates, “Are you going to happy hour this week?” but nobody actually sees themselves as the organizer because it’s been a standing tradition for so long, and maybe the group who started the tradition don’t even work there anymore.

      If you’re in that sort of culture this letter is good to keep in mind so that you remember to invite new colleagues to things like this, even if in your mind it’s a standing weekly event open to everyone that nobody needs an invitation to attend and you are not the organizer of!

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        Heck, in that case just say, “There’s a standing tendency to have happy hour on (day) after work at (location). No one really organizes it, but everyone on the team is welcome to join. Please don’t feel you need an invitation on any given week.”

        Reply
        1. tigerlily

          Yeah, but somebody has to be in charge enough to think to say that. If I was next to a new person right at the moment I was getting my purse together to head to happy hour, I might think of it, but otherwise that’s probably not the case.

          Reply
          1. Kyrielle

            Agreed! I’m just thinking, if someone is reading this and is thinking, “That’s us, but I can’t *invite* them because it doesn’t really work that way” – I was just throwing out a phrasing if someone wants one. Sorry.

            Reply
          2. JamieS

            I don’t think you need an official “point man” or event organizer for this type of thing. Basically if you see them then say something. At worst they’ll tell you someone else has already said something. Or at worst if the new person doesn’t show ask if anyone told them and if nobody did make a note to say something next time. The few times I’ve been in that scenario there’s almost always someone who volunteers to tell the new guy next time they see him. Often several people volunteer.

            Reply
        2. LBK

          But who’s the person that’s responsible for doing that? Yeah, some teams have the social butterfly who takes it on themselves, but otherwise it’s not like there’s an appointed happy hour coordinator in every department.

          Reply
          1. No gifts

            Sooooo many of the quieter people in my department, as well as people with little kids or other commitments that mean happy hours aren’t often possible, have told me privately that it means a lot to them that I always invite them when I “organize” (if you can even call it that) a post-work happy hour, even if they only accept 10% or fewer of my invitations. They’ve said that being invited makes them feel welcome on that once-in-a-blue-moon time they’re able/up for coming, and generally contributes to them feeling like they’re still members of the group. So now I try to make a point of inviting *everyone* to everything (unless someone has explicitly told me they don’t want to be invited, which hasn’t yet happened but I would honour it if it did).

            Reply
  4. Squeeble

    This reminds me of a concept I see doled out in a lot of advice columns dealing with personal relationships, where sometimes if you’re not getting what you need from your partner/mom/whoever, you just need to ask for it explicitly. We often think that getting what we need isn’t as genuine if we have to ask for it, versus if the other person just knows, but that isn’t always true!

    Reply
  5. Koko

    Yes, hopefully this is just a case of them not realizing you’re interested.

    I was pleasantly surprised how many more people started attending our in-office happy hours after we adopted Slack and the HHs started being announced on our local office’s general purpose channel. For years we’d been doing them every Friday with everyone always welcome, and I guess in our minds “everybody knew” about it because we were doing it so visibly. But we also didn’t go around promoting it so it didn’t really occur to us that there might be other people who either didn’t know we were holding them or didn’t feel comfortable inviting themselves to join us.

    Reply
    1. EddieSherbert

      Same. Slack is a life-saver for these kinds of things, in my opinion! An easy way to invite everyone to anything :)

      Reply
  6. Been there

    I moved to a different office/city in my company and it seemed that all the people who worked there were friends outside of the office (younger demographic mid 20’s to 30’s -For reference I was in the same the age group). Anyway, there were a lot of social activities with the group that I never participated in.

    After a year or two of this I started to do things like the sports teams, but still not a lot of socializing.

    One night when some of the girls felt sorry because the guys didn’t plan something for another coworkers bachelor party we took him out. Halfway through the night he turned to me and said “You’re a lot of fun, why haven’t you gone out with us more” my answer was pretty simple “Nobody invited me. It’s a shame, because I am a helluva lot of fun”

    I wasn’t trying for sympathy just stating the fact. He did tell me that he never really thought to invite me to stuff because the culture was one that it was assumed everyone knew they were welcome.

    So don’t feel weird about asking about social activities. They might be thinking you know you are defacto invited and just not coming.

    Reply
  7. DecorativeCacti

    I struggle with this a lot both in and out of work. I was raised that you don’t invite yourself to things. You just don’t. You don’t ask to be included. If they wanted you, they’d invite you. So when sitting at work and people are making plans, I would just sit there feeling bad that they aren’t asking me by name because that meant I wasn’t included.

    I promise that no one will actually think horrible things about you if you ask to be included. You can even give them an easy out (“Hey, that sounds fun. Can I come or is it just X department?”) I still struggle with it, but really. No one is going to be turned off by a gentle ask.

    Reply
      1. LBK

        I think it’s so heavily ingrained into you growing up that inviting yourself to social events is rude/invasive/annoying that it’s hard to break that mindset when you start working. The rule really are different at the office, but most people don’t have practice self-inviting and/or have a programmed anxiety about doing it that’s hard to overcome even if intellectually you know it’s okay.

        That’s why I’m a big fan of the strategy of being the inviter – you know for sure you’re wanted there by the organizer (yourself), plus it sets the precedent that you are a person who likes to do after work things so it helps remind people to actively loop you in the next time something’s going on. Not that you should expect to have to set that precedent before you can start getting invited to stuff, but as I said above re: how these invitations tend to spread organically, it definitely helps if someone can think “Oh yeah, I had such a nice time chatting with Bob at the last happy hour, I should see if he’s free after work tomorrow.”

        Reply
    1. Triplestep

      I was raised to believe that it is rude to invite yourself, too. I was also raised to develop habits that give people an impression I am “buttoned up.” (My mother was a stickler for grammar and enunciation.) I have a biting sense of humor and am very social, but the assumption the buttoned up co-worker wouldn’t be interested and my aversion to inviting myself mean it takes a while for me to get included in these kinds of things.

      Reply
  8. I am good at dealing with people

    A long time ago in another office not far away from my current company, I was an assistant. Several of the people who I assisted/worked with regularly went out drinking and otherwise socialized among themselves. I was more socially awkward back then and I always assumed I wasn’t included (plus I was the department assistant while they were at a level or two above me). However, I wished I would have been. I even once made the stupid mistake of complaining about it to my managers, who correctly told me there was nothing they could do. (Told you I was stupid and awkward back then.)

    Fast forward about 15 years. I’ve just started a job at another company. The team I’m onbis friendly, but I haven’t yet seen people go out to lunch with each other or mention going to Happy Hour at any of the nearby bars. My next-cubicle neighbor told me my new colleagues are social, but this time of year is their busy season so they may not seem or be social until after January.

    At any rate, this time I’ll make a friendly effort.

    Reply
  9. NotThatGardner

    follow up question to the advice though – what if you say “Would you let me know the next time people are going to happy hour? I’d love to come.” and then the next time they go, they have forgotten (or “forgotten”) you said that, and neglect to invite you again.
    speaking from experience – feels awkward to ask AGAIN to be invited – what would you recommend then?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Possibilities: find a specific person who you haven’t connected with before to ask them if they can let you know, and then ask them on Friday just in case; initiate Happy Hour yourself; start asking people for lunch dates (assuming it fits into the office culture) so you build relationships that way instead.

      Reply
    2. Koko

      I think the easiest approach would probably be to say one afternoon at the end of a group meeting or on group chat, “Boy, it’s been a long day. Anyone up for getting a couple of drinks after work?” If you already know that people frequently happy hour odds are pretty good that people will take you up on it, especially if you choose a day of the week or a bar that you know is commonly chosen – who knows, maybe you’ll hear there were already plans in the works and now you’re invited!

      If it doesn’t work that evening, at the very least you’ve further reminded them that you are a person with interest in this activity without actually asking directly again, and they might be more likely to make a point of inviting you in the future.

      If they keep not inviting you even after you’ve made a point of inviting them then I’m afraid the answer might just be that your office is cliquey and doesn’t want to include other people in their outings. Which stinks, but there’s probably not much you can about it.

      Reply
      1. Lily Rowan

        Yup — some offices have crappy social structures. But not all!

        I was hurt about not being invited to happy hour at one job, until I realized I didn’t actually want to hang out with those people.

        Reply
  10. Oolb

    One thing that can help if you are introverted is to ask one specific person rather than bringing the issue up to the whole group. When I first started working at my current job, my team would often discuss their Work Drinks plan in front of me but I was never invited. I felt way too awkward to say anything about it to the group. The one day I casually and privately asked the person on the team I felt closest to about it and he immediately invited me.

    Reply
    1. ClownBaby

      I forget what it’s called…but this reminds me of the situation in which people just assume someone else in the group will take responsibility, so you’re better off just asking one or two people rather than the whole group.

      Reply
    2. CM

      Yes, this helps — you can even ask someone to take you with them. So if you hear there’s a happy hour, you can say, “Great, want to meet up at 5:30 to walk over together? I’ll stop by your office.” (Or whatever works in your setting.)

      Reply
      1. EddieSherbert

        +1 this was literally the only way I was going to go out with coworkers when I started my job. Definitely used a coworker I got to know early on as a bit of a security blanket!

        (over time, I’ve made more friends and gotten far more comfortable with everyone!)

        Reply
  11. amp2140

    I really want to speak on this issue. It is so frustrating to feel like there is no good solution for people like the OP. I’ve seen so many people that display the same “quietness” and half want to be left alone and feel badgered and overwhelmed by being asked out when that simply isn’t their scene. The other half are like the OP.

    Please don’t assume malice when something can be explained by an oversight or stupidity. They either don’t notice you want to go and don’t want to annoy you, or they’re trying to read your vibe that you don’t want to be social and are respecting that.

    Reply
  12. ket

    A specific action plan if you’re a bit nervous:
    1) Identify a person who goes who seems nice, who you can chat with.
    2) In casual conversation or in an email, say to this person, “Hey, I’m curious about the happy hours. If they’re not exclusive I’d love to go to one. Could you let me know about the next one?”
    3) Hopefully this person is nice and then they tell you, and if it’s actually a support group for people in unrequited love with octopi they’ll tell you that.
    4) They’ll feel happy to have helped, in general, and you’ll have someone to introduce you if necessary or someone to start the conversation with.
    5) This avoids the problem of coming up to a group at the water cooler and feeling like you’re saying “Why won’t you play with me?” on the playground (not that that’s what’s happening anyway), and it also avoids the problem of diffuse responsibility. If it’s an organic group where people each just ask one person along, it’s still easy to get missed if no one decides you are their person.

    Conversely, every AAM reader who organizes/invites to such things can this week vow to invite someone new or who they figure might not be interested but haven’t actually talked to!

    Reply
    1. sstabeler

      actually, this is probably a good idea anyway, just in case the drinks turn out to be a group of friends that just happen to go for drinks after work, rather than a “employees of X company” thing. (if it’s a group of friends, then for obvious reasons you can’t assume you can join them- though if you’re polite when you ask and reasonably well-liked at work, there’s always a possibility of being invited along anyway, particularly if the dislike for quiet people is mostly “They’re never interested in talking”- to an extrovert, it can be difficult to understand introverts to the point that extroverts and introverts can both consider the other rude.)

      Reply
  13. Rachel B

    If you suggest a different venue, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have takers. I’ve worked with people who would turn down a trip to the moon if it meant skipping their usual drinks and nachos. It is totally reasonable that people may turn down an invite or two because of scheduling or preferences.

    Reply
    1. k.k

      And even if they turn it down, you’ve still let them know that you are interested in socializing. They’ll likely remember that next time something is planned.

      Reply
  14. Wrench Turner

    I hate asking to tag along when I’m not invited but the suggestion of inviting everyone to your own is a great way to do it. Odds are real good they’ll just say “Oh we do this already here, come along next time!” because it’s easier to get one person to join a group than move the group.

    Reply
  15. Devil's Advocate

    I agree it’s often a mistake to assume someone quiet doesn’t want to join something. But it’s often those people who aren’t comfortable asserting themselves to be included in situations. And then at the event, still don’t engage and participate and therefore reinforce the impression they don’t want to be there and make it awkward. I am a strong introvert myself, and it rankles when being an introvert is confused with being shy or meek or quiet. Work or social events are exhausting but if I want to go I also know I need to hold up my end of the social contract and ask for what I want (to go with) and participate in conversation even if it takes prep work to have questions and comments in mind to use. Or bring a buddy to do the hard work while I smile and nod along. But not letting people know you’d like an invite, or then hovering silently at the edges of groups and conversations without explanation, does not help.

    Reply
  16. Anon anon anon

    I have a slightly different take on this one. I’m someone who is, at least in some situations, assumed to be no fun because I’m quiet or because of the way I look or because of my job. I got good at asserting myself and being included. I came to realize that 90% of the time, people who make those kinds of assumptions tend to be kind of superficial and judgmental. Judge a book by its cover types. I decided I’d just let those people screen themselves out. I do assert myself and make more of an effort to reach out to people than I used to. I just stop and back away when I’ve made an effort but am still being judged. Not worth the hassle.

    Reply
    1. EddieSherbert

      I don’t think this is a totally fair assessment – this might happen sometimes, but I don’t think it’s the usual reason. It’s most likely a harmless reason that has nothing to do with “personality flaws.”

      Maybe OP turned down an event once and they thought she wasn’t interested. Maybe they have a large office and just forget sometimes. Maybe it’s a tradition between X amount of people and while they’re totally open to more people joining, they don’t think to actually ask.

      Reply
      1. Anon anon anon

        I agree. I was generalizing. In OP’s case, she should give them a chance. But if she makes an effort and they still exclude her, she should give up on them.

        Reply
    2. mf

      As quiet person myself, I’ve found that when I befriend other quiet people, it often takes more “work” then trying to get to know somebody who’s outgoing. I often have to take the initiative in striking up conversation, in establishing a warm rapport, in asking questions about the other person.

      Often this pays off–the other quiet person seems to grow more comfortable around me, and then they take on more initiative in these relationship activities. But I think some people don’t want to put in the extra effort. Or maybe they feel nervous around because they can’t tell if the quiet person reciprocates their interest in being friendly.

      Reply
  17. always in email jail

    I would probably pick someone nice and say “I hear ya’ll went to _______ the other night, how was it?” and listen to their response and be like “oh that sounds like fun! Let me know next time ya’ll go if you don’t mind, I’d love to join!”

    Reply
  18. mf

    Quiet person here! I’m naturally pretty quiet but have worked on seeming more outgoing in recent years and I now get invited to more lunches and happy hours than I want.

    One thing that’s worked for me is chatting with people and trying to get to know them in small groups or in an one-on-one setting. So even if I don’t talk much in meetings or when I’m working at my desk, I will stop by other people’s desk when I have a work excuse and will be sure to make some non-work related conversation. I also make an effort to work in little niceties like saying good morning and asking about their weekend to most people I encounter. I think it’s made me seem friendly and approachable even though I’m quiet

    Reply
    1. mf

      One other thing: befriend the other quiet people at work!

      When I go out of my way to be friendly and welcoming to fellow quiet people, I notice they start to seek me out and invite to me things. Probably because I’ve made an effort to be easy to talk to.

      Reply
  19. Ergo Jon

    I used to live in Japan, and office workers there face the reverse problem that is being forced to join after work drinking sessions. Many of my colleagues, especially women, secretly confide that they hate the ritual, but missing out on these events was out of the question, as it’s a fast way to get ostracized by everyone from the boss to your peers.

    Reply
  20. I Coulda Been a Lawyer ;)

    My friends team leader, while in conversation with her, interrupted to remind a passing team member about the end of season party. When he turned back to her, she said oh there’s a team party Friday. His response? Don’t worry about it. THAT is rude AND excluded. Everything else falls somewhere along the scale.

    Reply
  21. Emma LA

    I like AAM’s idea to be the one to invite a group out—then OP can gage the situation better. But about inviting oneself along… it depends. In my workspace there is one woman who we all know is a nasty racist from her out-of-work activities. And a couple of guys who are creeps. So we make a point of excluding them. If they asked us, we’d feel obligated to say yes then it would suck for everybody. If they organized something, they’d get the hint that THEY are the problem as we’d all decline. It’s most likely as AAM suggests and it would be find for OP to ask. But just in case they might be tragically unaware like our coworkers, well…

    Reply
  22. Zara

    If most of the office goes out for drinks, it’s so odd and somewhat rude that no one has even thought to mention it to OP or see if she’d be interested. I can’t imagine a scenario where you’d just shrug and assume that a person won’t be interested without even running it by them first. A person’s quietness isn’t an excuse. :/

    Reply
  23. Often Left Out

    Most advice about exclusionary and cliquish environments put the onus of changing group behavior on the person left out. It shouldn’t be up to one person to constantly have to invite herself to office outings or make sure he or she is always in the right place at the right time to overhear an invitation that’s supposed to be open to everyone. I agree with some of the other posters who’ve said that people who think it’s so easy just to include yourself, probably haven’t been on the receiving end of regular exclusion. It’s also not much fun to organize your own event that no one is interested in, only not to be invited to the very next event where “everyone is welcome.” That stuff sucks and, left unchecked, can undermine team dynamics and productivity.

    To everyone who insists that happy hours and such aren’t meant to be exclusionary… It’s really not that hard to send an email to the group address saying “Some of us are heading to Bob’s Burgers after work today, join us if you’re free.” And by making it common practice to send an email to everyone, no one has to keep track of who is and isn’t interested and who has or hasn’t been personally invited week to week.

    If you don’t actively include, you unintentionally exclude.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I’m not sure if if I’m on board with your last sentence or not–I’m still thinking–but otherwise I think you’re making a decent point that most people here would agree with. The thing is, though, the person who wrote in isn’t the person who can change that; all she can do is change how she responds to the situation that’s being presented. That’s why it’s not helpful for her to think of this as a deliberate rejection when it quite likely isn’t; it makes it that much harder for her to take action needed to change the situation and makes her unnecessarily even unhappier with her co-workers.

      And of course there are complications in the dynamics in all sides, including on the inviter’s side; there’s the “it’s always on Bob to do the inviting” syndrome, there’s the “I’m sad because nobody came when I issued an invitation but I didn’t notice that nobody came to Jane’s” situation; there’s the “I haven’t mastered the art of appearing approachable despite being quiet so it ramps up people’s anxiety to ask me to something same as it ramps up mine to issue an invitation.” While there are definitely configurations that can reduce inviter vulnerability, the person hoping for the invitation isn’t the only vulnerable one here.

      Reply
    2. Jill

      “Most advice about exclusionary and cliquish environments put the onus of changing group behavior on the person left out.”

      Because the person being left out is the one asking for advice. You can’t give advice to the people who didn’t write in.

      Reply
  24. Chickaletta

    This whole thread is so convoluted, no wonder some people have hang-ups about something as simple as going out for drinks with a group.

    I agree 100% with Alison. Just ask to go next time. Don’t do math. Don’t make judgments about intentions. Just f’ing go and enjoy yourself. ***That’s what going out for drinks is all about.***

    Reply

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